Laws Make Taping Farm Cruelty a Crime

Several states have passed laws preventing activists from recording livestock mistreatment
Wikimedia/Scott Bauer

Video proof of farm cruelty is one of the more effective ways for animal rights activists to effect change. A little over a year ago, McDonald's and Target ditched their egg supplier, Sparboe Farms, after animal rights group Mercy for Animals released video of animal cruelty at several of the company's facilities. Clearly something must be done to stop this widespread problem, and according to several lawmakers the best way to deal with this pervasive injustice is to make it illegal for people to film acts of farm cruelty.

Some of the proposed or enacted bills would make it illegal for anyone to covertly videotape livestock or to apply for a job without disclosing one's connections to an animal rights organization.

According to the New York Times, several of the proposed laws seem to be based on work from the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group that creates model bills for legislators, including one called "The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act," which would put anyone who took pictures on a farm with the intent of "defaming the owner" on a terrorist registry.

Some activists told the Times that they hadn't seen anything that would label them as terrorists, but that last year Iowa, Utah, and Missouri had passed laws that made it basically impossible to document animal cruelty in those states.

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Indiana and Tennessee are expected to vote on similar laws in the next few weeks.